Fentanyl: How one potent drug is impacting the lives of thousands

Max Guerrero and Alexander Stevenson

Neil Parmar, Features Editor

A synthetic opioid, 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, is ending the lives of American teens nationwide.  This drug is fentanyl. Fentanyl is typically prescribed for treating severe pain but is becoming more commonly distributed by drug dealers looking to profit from opioid addiction.

Fentanyl continues to impact the lives of people across the nation as more people are unknowingly exposed to it. (Neil Parmar)

This potent drug is sneaking its way into teens’ lives and is creating an epidemic. With an easy-to-disguise form, a strong effect and a lack of knowledge of what fentanyl is, the drug shows how such an epidemic is forming. 

The drug is capable of causing an overdose with just as much as a few grains of salt, sometimes even resulting in death.

Teens are often at risk of this overdose because of rainbow fentanyl. Rainbow fentanyl is a pill that looks similar to candy and is a colorful M30 oxycodone fake laced with the drug.

Green Hope’s School Resource Officer Chris Crady stated, “Kids are taking it, not knowing the effects it could have on them thinking it’s just going to be a fun drug to take and they’re dying as a result. In 2021 alone, the CDC reports that there were 107,000 overdose deaths mostly related to fentanyl.”

The chemical structure of fentanyl also feeds into the high overdose numbers; fentanyl’s chemical structure is easily malleable, impacting how damaging the drug is. 

Nationwide, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has launched a campaign dubbed One Pill Can Kill to provide knowledge and resources on how to combat the epidemic.

As the epidemic spreads nationwide, it also makes a powerful impact statewide. In North Carolina alone, there were 1,342 overdose deaths as of May. The NC Office of Chief Medical Examiner reports that overdose deaths from 2016 to 2021 rose a shocking 616%, from 442 deaths to 3,163 deaths. Due to this, the state has launched the More Powerful campaign for similar reasons but with more resources for residents, including drop boxes to dispose of drugs.

At Green Hope, Officer Crady noted the best way that students can help combat the opioid epidemic. “Know not to take it. If someone is handing what appears to be candy or pills, don’t put that in your mouth because you don’t know what that is,” said Officer Crady. 

Kids are taking it, not knowing the effects it could have on them thinking it’s just going to be a fun drug to take and they’re dying as a result.

— Chris Crady, School Resource Officer

With opioid addiction on the rise, fentanyl is a sneaky method to hook teens through the rainbow colors.  Sadly, near the Halloween season there is now a fear of small children obtaining the drug.

The fentanyl epidemic proceeds to rapidly spread across both the state and nation. Its impacts continue to take unsuspecting lives at alarming rates.